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Mpls, MN, United States

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Che profuma!*

I've had a fairly ridiculously sensitive sense of smell for as long as I can remember, and at fairly predictable intervals it's even more sensitive than usual.

Today I rode to school along Franklin, and experienced a veritable smörgåsbord of smells--in addition to the usual exhaust fumes, I smelled the bakery, cigarette smoke from a passing car, pedestrians' cologne and perfume, and spices and incense from small stores. The ride home, along the bike path, was even better; we had unseasonably warm and wonderful weather, and I rode slowly, savoring the smell of warm trees and sunshine, slightly tinged with smoke.

Then I got home, and as soon as I opened the door, I knew something was wrong. My apartment smelled, and not like warm trees and sunshine.

(Please feel free to stop reading here. Seriously. I'm sorry my posts have been so unpleasant of late.)

I had just been talking to the playwright-hippie-downstairs-neighbor outside, and when I told him I'd killed nine mice this weekend, he said, with conviction, "Oh, there are more."
"More?" I cried. "I killed NINE. Nine mice!"
"Based on how much poop we've been seeing as we've been moving, there has to be a lot of them." Then he revealed that they'd found a bag of cat food in the basement, and had thankfully removed it. Apparently not before, however, it had fed the colony they'd spawned, who had then moved north (to the killing fields of my kitchen).

After that exchange, it's definitely possible I was feeling extra-neurotic when I got to my own apartment and thought it smelled. That self-reflection was further reinforced when I proceeded through each room (after opening all the windows), sniffing everything (which is quite the experience when you're feeling olfactorily enhanced).

Once again, I knocked, grim and pale, on my neighbor's door. She came over and, happily for my sense of my sanity but unhappily for that of which the situation bodes, confirmed that the place smelled. At first, she didn't notice anything; after a few more sniffs, she wrinkled her nose.

"I think it smells of death," I suggested helpfully.

We confirmed that under my sink smells mouse-y... but it hasn't revealed itself as the locus of the stench, which seems to have intensified in the past few hours, despite the open windows (thank goodness for unseasonable weather). Those of you who have experience with these sorts of things know that this particular odor (death) eerily defies being pinpointed to a certain location.

This winter, there was a terrible smell in the TA office, and both I and the woman with whom I was TAing that semester were convinced it was something dead, despite the protestations of the other grads. Neither of us, sensitive sniffers notwithstanding, could locate the source, however. The office eventually (blessedly) stopped stinking, but it was only weeks later that a friend (accidentally!) found the corpse of the mouse who'd cuddled the warm power supply and met his end.

The possibility of this stench is why I haven't used poison on these little bastards, and now I appear to be stuck with it anyway. The injustice!

At my neighbor's suggestions, I called my landlord about it (and my discovery that, with my shoddily installed cabinets, there's a mysterious space behind my cupboards that I can't get to but the vermin apparently can). We had to laugh, though; he's both a man and a chain smoker, so he won't smell anything. Still, he does like to keep us happy. Here's hopin'.

*I finally learned in Italy that "Che profuma," depending on the punctuation, means both "What's that smell?" and "What a (nice) smell (mmmmmm)!"

4 comments:

I Hope So said...

these mice stories are hilarious (mostly because they are not happening to ME)

my two favorite parts:

"I think it smells of death," I suggested helpfully.

and

The possibility of this stench is why I haven't used poison on these little bastards, and now I appear to be stuck with it anyway. The injustice!

i will be laughing all night, hehe...

poor, ceri :(

The Churches said...

Oh, I agree! These ARE helarious! Though, sorry for your misfortune of course... During one dark period in my life, I had to crawl around under someone's house to retrieve several large ones who met an untimely demise due to their invasion (and poison in peanut butter)... It is rather an elusive smell. I can't tell you how many floor boards we dug up only to find the bugger somewhere else... Good luck with that!

Anonymous said...

I've had a mouse problem in my apartment, too, and the fact is, in an apartment building, they can always go somewhere else until you let your guard down. I've found something that actually works, and is humane to boot. They are these things you plug into the wall (on in each room) that emit a high-pitched frequency that the mice don't like. Must give them a headache. They're safe for cats and dogs, but if like me, you occasionally babysit a friend's pet rabbits, you'll have to unplug them. Anyway, they are available at Walmart or Meijer or Kmart or Target -- right near the mouse traps. The best part is none of that dead mouse smell. *shudder*

Curly Sue said...

I know the smell of death. I smell it every day when I leave my apartment and smell all of the roadkill of the previous night. Mmm.